Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Clyde, Edna and Louise Holloway

Roy and Louise Baltimore

Louise Virginia Holloway Baltimore died yesterday. She was the daughter of Edna and Arthur Holloway. Arthur was a loom fixer at the mill. Arthur and his family lived "under the hill" at 1907 Woolen Mills Road, they lived at 210 18th Street, ultimately they settled in at 1601 Woolen Mills Road. Edna Holloway, Louise's mother died eleven years ago at the age of 109.
Louise met her husband, Roy Jackson Baltimore, when she was a child, Louise said she had always known Roy. Roy and Louise moved to Newport News in 1940. In 1978 they retired to the Woolen Mills and built a house next door to Louise's mother on Woolen Mills Road.
Louise loved her family and she loved this Place.
She died on the Place, surrounded by family and friends.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Lot 4, Woolen Mills Road

photo courtesy of Schultz-Covert Collection

This photo was found recently in the house at 1809 Woolen Mills Road, located on lot 4 of the 1887 subdivision of land north of Woolen Mills Road (Albemarle County DB 88 Page 260). In 1920, according to the US Census, 1809 was inhabited by Athalia Spencer, her husband John and sons William and John.
A "J Shisler" is listed on the Woolen Mills payroll during the decade of the 20's. But in the year 1920 the census taker records John (53 y.o.) and John junior (19 y.o.) as railroad bridge carpenters.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

fifty families

Since these people were nearly all from nearby communities, the mill apparently avoided the worries of unstable foreign labor which comprised most of the workers in the woolen industry. In many instances the mill employed several members of a single family--a further stabilizing factor. In 1892 half of the 115 workers were women and, according to a local paper, their wages were "good." At that time, all the employees were obtained from only fifty families, which raised living standards more than annual wages might indicate.--Harry Poindexter

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

workforce size

Only by chance can one find out how large the laboring class of the mill was during these years. There had been about seventy employed at the time of the fire, but larger facilities required more hands after 1882. By the early nineties the number had swelled to 115. In 1906 the force of 150 employees was double that of 1882. These figures indicate that the Charlottesville mill was considerably larger than most American woolen mills, but very small if compared to many in New England.--Harry Poindexter

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Aunt Louise

Jean, Louise and Brenda Baltimore courtesy of the Baltimore-Pritchett Collection

Life was not so dull as these attitudes might suggest. Newspaper items tell of occasional band concerts and annual Christmas parties in the new chapel. Now and then on a warm, pleasant evening, employees and their families got together for outdoor suppers of oysters, creams, cakes, nuts, fruits, lemonades, etc. Such events brightened considerably the end of a long working day.--Harry Poindexter

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Thursday, July 17, 2008


Nathaniel Leake with his daughter, grandson and great grand-daughter- Courtesy the Scruggs Collection

The long shadow of passing years clouds the view of the daily laborer at the Charlottesville Woolen Mills. Yet, through the dimness one can occasionally glimpse the outlines of a paternalism fostered by the company to encourage and maintain a high level of welfare and morals among its employees. One gets the impression that the apathy, ignorance, and abject poverty of Southern cotton mill villages did not exist among these workers.

One of the first concerns of the stockholders after the 1882 fire was to make ?provision for retaining or helping the employees.? New dwellings for them were part of the building program which began that year. More benevolent in nature and less directly associated with profits, however, was the aid extended to the workers for improving the moral and educational fibre of the mill community.--Harry Poindexter

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Friday, May 30, 2008

down to the river

Woolies, 1909

At their June 2nd meeting, Charlottesville City Council will vote on a resolution to consider restoring the Timberlake-Branham Farm's "protected property" designation.
A move in that direction would be a win-win land use decision. The continued recognition of this special Woolen Mills place will positively affect the property owner, the Woolen Mills Village, and the larger Central Virginia community for generations to come.
For details of how to help, please read this flyer.
Walk with the Woolies!

"the fightin' sheep"

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

New names

Jean, Brenda and Annie Baltimore, 1707 Woolen Mills Road

The arrival of Northern investors was the only major change in the management of the mill before 1910. As noted above, these men entered the company by accepting stock in payment for machinery. Such a move was not unusual or new. Many Southern industries, especially cotton mills, found this an excellent way to entice southward some of the Northern capitalists who were at that moment eagerly seeking opportunities for investment.

New names now appeared on the Woolen Mills directory. Among them was an old friend, C. A. Furbish. He purchased large holdings of common and preferred stock and until 1896 assumed the role of adviser to Marchant. Furbush became the first vice-president of the company, a new office, bringing no compensation, which was created in 1883 to ease some of the responsibilities of the president.--Harry Poindexter

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

West Point

Nellie Melton, George Marion at the end of Woolen Mills Road, this area referred to as "under the hill" by residents of the Woolen Mills Village

The United States government was a large purchaser from 1884 on. Large amounts went to disabled soldiers' homes. From 1899 until at least the middle 1930's, the cadets of West Point were clothed in Charlottesville fabrics. Beginning in the late eighties, the mill succeeded in surplanting foreign mills as the manufacturer of fine doeskins used in the pants and trimmings for the highest ranking army officers. This was accomplished only after six months of experimentation and was quite impressive since no American mill was able to make such fabrics. Thereafter, on several occasions, other mills underbid the Charlottesville company and won this contract, but in every case the contractor gave up his efforts and bought the material from Marchant's firm.--Poindexter

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Friday, March 28, 2008

early user of electricity

photo courtesy the Pritchett collection, subject unknown

In the decade following the 1893 panic, hydroelectric power was first developed in this country for factory use. American woolen mills slowly adopted the new source of energy, but at the turn of the century only a small portion of their machinery was operated by electricity. Even as late as 1905 the amount was insignificant. The following table, based on the percentage of horsepower consumption in the woolen industry will indicate the trend.

The Charlottesville Woolen Mills became one of the early users of electricity. It had been necessary in 1889 to add another waterwheel and in 1902 steps were taken to increase not only machinery but the waterpower as well. Waterpower, hampered by floods, droughts, and obstructions, had long been a drawback to uninterrupted work, but no adequate substitute existed. During a dry spell in 1895, Marchant investigated the use of an electric motor for supplemental power but found the cost too great.--Harry Poindexter

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

drought and high water

Woolen Mills baseball team, courtesy of the Baltimore-Marion collection.

Moving from the crippled conditions of 1883 to vigorous health in 1914 was not an easy matter. Nor did recovery come immediately on the heels of the new injection of capital. Until 1886 the mill ended each year so deeply in red ink that a $30,000 deficit accumulated. In part this was brought about by a general depression in the woolen industry, and in part it was the result of' an inefficient general superintendent who had been hired to relieve Marchant of that responsibility. Furthermore, first a drought and then high water, ever recurring plagues, struck the hapless mill. In spite of a rigid retrenchment program, no common stock dividend was available during those critical years. The benefits which Henry Grady saw in an industrialized South were late in reaching the Charlottesville Woolen Mills.--Harry Poindexter

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

7396 miles 63 years

Battle for Iwo Jima- Between February 19 and March 26, 1945, four thousand, five hundred and fifty four Marines were killed in action. Both of James and Bannie Branham's sons served their country during World War II.
James Leake Branham Jr., USN, died July 7, 1991.
Thomas Eugene Branham, USMC, died February 19, 1945 on Iwo Jima.

James and Bannie Branham visit Arlington National cemetery with their daughter Mildred and grand-daughter Jane

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

a larger mill

Bitty Drumheller

The stockholders, suddenly jarred from the quiet enjoyment of profits, faced a difficult decision. Should the company use the insurance money to liquidate its debts, then divide remaining assets among the stock owners and disband? A few pessimists seemed to favor this course. They could point to the lean years just past to support their contention that the present prosperity was unnatural. But, perhaps as a second choice, they might merely rebuild and continue as before. Only one other alternative existed. The fire could be viewed as an opportunity rather than a disaster. In short, why not put up a larger mill with the latest machinery? --Harry Poindexter

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Monday, January 21, 2008

the status of labor

Mabel Pritchett Marrs with unidentified children c. 1955. The fishpond has been filled in.

In judging these extremely low payments, however, correspondingly small salaries of the management must be considered. In 1876, for example, the treasurer received only $1,000, out of which he had to pay clerical help. During the Following year, Marchant's salary as president and superintendent was merely $1,750.
Writers have commented sufficiently on the low wage scales of Southern laborers and on their influence in attracting Northern capital. Likewise the lower living standards of the South are well known. But too often the wage scale overshadows other aspects of the status of labor which reflect more properly the attitude of employers toward their workers. For example, if one judges the condition of the employees of the Charlottesville Woolen Mills in the seventies solely on the basis of their modest pay, he will believe them exploited. In fairness, one must realize that the administration was forced to keep wages low simply because of competitive prices and reluctant capital. At the same time, one must also note the sincere interest that was actually shown for the welfare of the employees. --Harry Poindexter

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

quality was the forte of the mill

Hezekiah Harlow, courtesy of the Drumheller family

Newspaper comments during the decade always emphasized the superior quality of Charlottesville Woolen Mills fabrics and the need to encourage home industries. Quality rather than a favorable price differential was evidently the forte of the mill. One must infer that in the better grades of cloth the company was unable to undersell Northern competitors who were being squeezed by a depressed internal economy even though adequate protection had been extended under the 1867 tariff. Indeed, in 1878 the directors considered turning to a cheaper rather than a finer grade of product. Three years later, however, the picture had altered. Equipment for a steam brush and rotary press was installed to improve the finished cloth at no extra labor cost. And plans were matured for extensive expansion. As we shall see later, this optimistic program was blocked by a second disastrous fire.--Harry Poindexter

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Thursday, January 3, 2008

twenty-six varieties

The Charlottesville Woolen Mills is mentioned several times in the letters of Booker T Washington. The Mill made the uniform cloth for students at the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in the 1880s. (Dunham)

At the time of the panic mostly plain cassimeres and kerseys comprised the output of the factory, but steps had been taken to add considerable variety. Heavy woolens, fancy cassimeres, flannels, and a heavy uniform cloth called "cadet gray" made their entrance into the mill's offerings. At a state fair in Richmond during the fall of 1874, the mill exhibited over twenty different kinds of prize-winning fabrics; yet these did not include their fall assortment! Three years later, the company displayed twenty-six varieties of cloth. Technical advance had enabled the mill to make summer and winter cassimeres of high quality and to extend the range of uniform cloths. By this date, also, these two groups of fabrics had achieved a considerable reputation "through-out the country" for quality, durability, and fastness of colors.--Harry Poindexter

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

opening wedges for a far-flung market

courtesy the Baltimore-Pritchett collection

Occasionally, too, interest centered about the need for a local factory to make clothing from the fabrics of the mill. An organization known as the Charlottesville Board of Trade considered it in 1874, and T. J. Randolph was especially interested in the plan. But nothing came of it although the idea was still bandied about in 1881.
A particularly important reason for the company's early successes, therefore, was the limited area from which it drew its capital, some of its raw materials, and its labor. A further factor was the continued manufacture of cloth using coarse wool which not only put the labor and machinery of the mill to best use but reduced the pressures of competition.
With its production founded primarily on coarse and medium grade fabrics during the seventies, the company began the manufacture of increasingly finer cloths which in subsequent decades came to dominate production. For the present they served as opening wedges for a far-flung market. --Harry Poindexter

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

labor fed and kept together

subject unknown, courtesy of Baltimore-Pritchett collection

As a result, sales went beyond production levels and disaster was averted "without stoppage of machinery, without loss of trade, without a protest, and [with] our skilled labor fed and kept together." This remarkable achievement Randolph credited to "our superintendent, a man in the prime of life, with skill, capacity, energy and integrity, whose fortunes are indissolubly staked on the success of the Charlottesville Woolen Mills."--Harry Poindexter

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Friday, November 2, 2007


from the Baltimore-Pritchett collection, subjects unknown

These six members were as follows: T. J. Randolph; W. C. N. Randolph, a prominent physician; N. H. Massie, bank president, business man, and later a law partner of Andrew J. Montague, the Democratic politician who became governor of Virginia; William Hotopp, a banker; W. W. Minor; and R. Harris, about whom the writer could find no information. For a list of these directors see Minutes, I, 4. and passim. The above information was gleaned from a study of local newspapers, except for Massie?s connection with Montague which came from an examination of the papers of J. Taylor Ellyson in Alderman Library, University of Virginia.--Harry Poindexter

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

depreciation of Confederate currency

Elva Haggard Preddy, 1607 Woolen Mills Road

The company's business was further hindered by financial deficiencies. Payment of stock subscriptions failed to keep pace with the requirements of the firm, and in January, 1862, the board of directors attempted to enforce collection by ordering payment of overdue stock accounts immediately. Difficulties were compounded by the continuing depreciation of Confederate currency. The government tried ineffectively to correct this latter development. After two previous attempts to deflate the circulating medium, an act of February 17, 1864, called for the exchange of certain classes of Treasury notes for interest-bearing bonds. Such fluctuations made the conduct of business quite complicated. The Charlottesville Manufacturing Company was the therefore forced to adjust its accounts by discounts of as much as one-third. These complications were apparently too much for Marchant's associates. In 1864 the mill went through another reorganization. Heretofore, changes in ownership had been in a direction indicating that the Charlottesville mill was following the stages of maturation quite typical of the industry as a whole. Under the impact of the war, however, this trend was reversed; ownership reverted to individual control for a period of some four years. The company during the period of incorporation had probably never sold more than 320 shares of stock, making a total capitalization of only $16,000. At some point during the war, John Marchant recovered nearly complete control of the business by purchasing all but fourteen shares. He was prevented from acquiring all shares because the owners were serving in the Confederate forces. The corporation then became practically a single-owner concern. Finally, on June 20, 1864, Marchant sold the mill, machinery, and real estate to his son, Henry Clay Marchant, for $17,000. The legality of this transaction seems open to question since the outstanding shares had not yet been retired; but John Marchant pledged himself to purchase and deliver them as soon as practicable.
--Harry Poindexter

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Saturday, October 6, 2007

cotton v wool

Gladys Gatlin, 96 y.o. today, worked at the mill 30+ years.

While extant newspapers of Charlottesville do not prove that such an impulse helped account for support of the Charlottesville factory, as was the case after the war, there must have been some degree of this sectional patriotism at work. By 1860 two factories were in the production of cotton and woolen cloth. Together capitalized at $34,600 and employing twenty men and twenty-two women, the two mills had only about ten percent of their investment and one-third of their work force involved in the manufacture of woolen cloth. The remainder was used in cotton cloth production. Similarly, of a total annual output of' $61,750 in cloth, merely one-sixth was in woolens. Labor costs in making these woolens amounted to $2,088 yearly as compared to $3,912 in cotton cloth production.--Harry Poindexter

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

other factors delayed expansion of the mill

from the Baltimore-Pritchett collection

Besides the influx of these cloths other factors delayed expansion of the mill. Virginia's population remained relatively stationary, increasing only twelve percent during the 1850's while the national rate was three times as great. In Albemarle County the 20,000 inhabitants of 1820 had slowly climbed to 23,000 in 1840 and to 25,800 in 1850. The next ten years added only 825 to that total. In addition, the panic of 1857 affected Marchant's fortunes adversely. However, it is significant that confronted with all these developments, he made no attempt to dispose of the property or to divert production from the manufacture of cotton and woolen cloth.--Harry Poindexter

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Monday, October 1, 2007

mortgaged once again

from the Baltimore-Pritchett collection

Successful functioning of the enterprise must have been hampered by its owner's unstable finances. In the early part of 1858, not long after the panic of the Previous year, Marchant was forced to mortgage once again the Factory and property at Pireus to secure a debt.

At that time his storehouse at the factory site stocked a variety of goods which indicated that, at least temporarily, events had pushed the textile business into the background. Hats, caps, ready-made clothing, hardware, cutlery, earthenware, china, shoes, and boots comprised the inventory. This, too, was mortgaged.--Harry Poindexter

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Sunday, September 30, 2007

24 cents & 3/4 pound of wool per yard

from the Baltimore-Pritchett collection, date and subjects unknown

Apparently Marchant continued to operate the grist mill and plaster mill while these arrangements were being negotiated. By August, 1854, he felt "that his prospects... [were] brightening for getting the Factory in successful operation again." He publicly promised that the would be ready for "the next Wool Season." Meanwhile, he returned to his previous dry goods and grocery business in town, and supplemented his income by serving as a collector of bad debts for Albemarle and adjoining counties. Not until the following April was the mill able to resume operations. By the middle of 1857, Marchant was offering to make white and colored jeans at twenty-two and twenty-four cents per yard respectively, provided three-fourths of a pound of clean wool were furnished for each yard of cloth desired. John C. Patterson, who now began a long and intimate association with the mill, sold locally the products of the mill.--Harry Poindexter

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Friday, September 14, 2007

the details are at times difficult to follow...

Changes in ownership continued through the antebellum period. The details are at times difficult to follow.

In October, 1850. Jones announced in a local paper that he had purchased the entire property of the Charlottesville Factory and was "proceeding to put it into operation in all its branches.? Farish and Randolph recommended him to the public as a first-rate mechanic. Before the end of the year, however, Jones was forced by debt to execute a deed or trust on one-third of the Factory and real-estate which he had originally bought. Barely a year later, on January 3, 1852, Jones informed the public that he was acting as agent for Isaiah Stout, who was renting the Factory, and would run the mill during the approaching wool season. The Factory was "ready to receive wool either to be carded into rolls or manufactured into Jeans, Linseys, etc." Yet, at that time neither Jones nor Stout was in any position to undertake extensive operations. As early as the previous November 8th, Jones' insolvency had forced his attorney to take steps to auction his equity in the property, which amounted to only a one-third interest. To confuse the matter, at the same time that this auction was announced, John Adams Marchant, a local merchant, declared that he would offer for sale the two-thirds interest he had acquired In the Factory from Farish and Randolph. At first set for December 2, 1851, the sale of Jones' share in the property was postponed until early in January, at which time Marchant not only withdrew his offer of sale but purchased Jones' portion for $4,250.35. Notice of this transaction appeared concurrently with the news that Stout had rented the property. But whatever the sequence of events, Marchant now owned the property and retained Jones to conduct the business for him.--Harry Poindexter

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Monday, September 10, 2007

corn mill, grist mill, plaster mill, textile mill = woolen mills

unknown 0013
Besides running a factory to make cotton and woolen cloth, the men offered a variety of services to the surrounding countryside. A blacksmith's shop, corn mill, grist mill, and plaster mill were supplemented by a store selling dry goods and woolen cloth--no doubt primarily the products of the firm. So broad were the purposes of the company that the articles of agreement permitted the firm to undertake any type of business that the three men might desire.
Jones became the superintendent and manager of the mills, shops, and all mechanical aspects of the enterprise at a salary of $600 per year plus free use of a house located on the property. Thomas Farish ran the dry goods store, purchased supplies, and acted as salesman for the company's products. In addition he served as treasurer, paying the debts incurred, making any needed financial arrangements, keeping the books in order, and handling the payroll. For his efforts, Farish received $680 a year and expenses for business trips, but any assistant he might him had to be paid out of his own pocket. William Farish took no part in the operations of the concern; evidently his ministerial duties forced him to limit his contribution to the capital. Before three years had passed, he was succeeded in the partnership by John T. Randolph and the name of the firm became Farish, Jones and Randolph.--Harry Poindexter

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Saturday, September 8, 2007

Lottie Hawley

Virginia and James Starkes daughter Lottie moved from the Woolen Mills to Arizona. She is pictured above, standing on the right running board, date on the license plate is 1917. Who, what, when, where, why, how? Lottie had dozens of relatives on "The Place". Why move West?

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Friday, September 7, 2007

Farish, Jones and Company

The capitalization of the company consisted of the above listed real estate, tools, and water power and totaled $21,000. The partners bound themselves to advance money to the firm, whenever needed, at six percent interest. Questions involving extension of the business required the approval of all three, but any other matter could be settled by majority vote. Jones reserved the right to withdraw from the arrangement at any time, and in the event of not being able to reach satisfactory agreement with his associates for such withdrawal, he was empowered to offer, after ten months notice, his share of the firm at public auction on terms of at least one-third cash and the balance in twelve and twenty-four months. Either of the Farishes could likewise retire from participation, but for some reason had to wait only six months before seeking a public auction. Otherwise, the partnership would last for ten years from January 1, 1847.--Harry Poindexter

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

Farish, Jones and Company

With these transactions, the factory at "Pireus" began to be separated from its position as an adjunct of the Meriwether farm. Determined efforts were initiated to turn it into a going concern. On May 15, 1847, one month after William Farish obtained half interest in the site, an unchartered company was formed to exploit the opportunities offered by the dam, water power, and machinery. This new group took the name Farish, Jones and Company. There were now three partners, the latest being Henry W. Jones whom we have met before. Jones secured one undivided third from the other two in all the property and water rights which had been involved in the bargain between the Farishes, except for one abutment of the toll bridge. A value of $14,000 was placed on this contribution to the partnership. For his share, Jones conveyed to each of the other two a one-third interest in the machinery at the factory at "Pireus" for the manufacture of cotton and wool, in the carpenters and machinists tools there, and in the blacksmith shop, brass foundry, and dye establishment attached to the mill. This equipment, by the way, had been owned previously by the partners Crewdson and Jones was valued at $7,000.--Harry Poindexter

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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

unknown 0012

I'd like to be able to slow the deterioration of these images, to store and catalog them properly.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

unknown 0011

Sunday, July 29, 2007

unknown 005

scanned over 200 photos from Bettie Baltimore Harlow's collection, her neighbors, family and friends. This picture stands out, not typical of the product that emerged from the local portraitists...


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Moses Knight

Approximately fifty years after the photo above was taken, Moses asked Lola to marry. Lola said yes. Moses moved to the Woolen Mills. Moses left the Woolen Mills yesterday, age 103. A friendly man, a fine man, an excellent neighbor in every way.
click here for obituary

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007


In the case of a photograph made in a studio I presume the expense was more than nominal. Having a photo made with another person would be something to ponder. It wouldn't be done lightly. So who would a young woman have her picture taken with? Her cousin? Her sister. Above on the left, that is Virginia Starkes daughter Mamie. The other girl? I am thinking Lottie Starkes. Lottie moved away from the Place, moved out West.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

unknown 004

Do you know the rules governing gifts in a textile mill village at the turn of the century? 1890-1910? When would it be appropriate to give a photograph of yourself to a friend, to a family member? Judging from physical items preserved, it appears that this giving of photographs was a common occurrence among the residents of the Woolen Mills.
Early on, the images were produced by one of the several studios in Charlottesville (Holsinger, Fischer, Wampler). As the years passed, the professional photographs were replaced with snapshots taken by Woolen Mills residents.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Woolen Mills Road

the simple address

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

Woolen Mills Road

Jean Baltimore looks out over Woolen Mills Road. 1607 WMRd is visible to the right of the frame, Chesapeake Street is in the distance.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

unknown 003

This woman appears repeatedly. Possibly Mamie Starkes older sister Lottie.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

unknown 002

Where are the clothing historians? I think the guy with three buttons is John Wesley Baltimore, bricklayer. Laid the brick for his sister's house at 1606 Woolen Mills Road. Laid brick at Scott Stadium. This photo isn't labeled, but it looks like John, circa 1900.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

November 1952

Sometimes a thoughtful individual, aware of mortality, aware of forgetfulness, will write names on the back of a photo. On the back of this photo, left to right, Ernest Bibb, Clarence Spencer, James Branham, Leo Johnson and John Drumheller.

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Sunday, May 6, 2007

their son, her brother

James and Bannie Branham receive a posthumous award for their son, Thomas Eugene Branham, killed in action on Iwo Jima, February 19, 1945. Lucile Watson, Tom's sister, stands between her parents with her daughter Jane.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Timberlake-Branham 1512 East Market


November 30, 1999- Lucile Branham Watson's ashes are scattered in the pasture behind the Timberlake-Branham house by her daughter, Jane Leitch. The boy behind Jane is Branham Talton, James L. Branhams great-great-grandson.

James and Bannie Branham had ten children, nine survived to adulthood.

Branham was a farmer, ultimately a farmer in the City. He died in 1970, seven years after his property was annexed into the City of Charlottesville.

The Branhams had a tradition of caring for one another and for others. James wife, Bannie, was a nurse as were their daughters Ruby and Mildred.

The Branhams son, Tom (Thomas Eugene Branham Pfc. USMCR) was killed in action on Iwo Jima, February 19, 1945. As a consequence of his sacrifice serving this country, the Branhams received funds from the government which helped facilitate the purchase of the site at 1512 East Market.

The Branhams were a close-knit family who loved their homeplace and used every bit of it, from Market Street to the C&O railroad track. Grand-daughter Dorothy Hesselton describes 1512:

1512 E. Market Street had 7 acres of land and was a little working farm. There were cows,chickens,pigs- a horse named Frank- My Grandfather plowed those fields with a plow and horse. My cousin Jane and I used to have to up pick potatoes and would hide in the corn rows to get out of work.

They produced much of their own food, they canned and preserved everything-DH. James Branham had a smokehouse, hog pen, barn, tool sheds, corn-crib, smoke-house, watering-trough and a chicken coop on site. They had two vegetable gardens, grew corn for the livestock in the field bordering the railroad tracks. The cows and Frank the plow-horse grazed in the front pasture toward the house.

Of the eight surviving children, four spent significant portions of their adult lives living under the same roof with their parents, sometimes being cared for, sometime being caretakers, always enjoying a family supper at the end of the day. The non-resident children visited with regularity, the grand-children had the run of the place and a chilled melon care of their grand-father every morning when in season. Says Hesselton- It was a life that so few are fortunate to have... we were spoiled rotten.

In addition to their devotion to each other, the Branhams were devoted to this property. It was the center of their family life.

In the 80s, Toms sisters Lucile and Mildred began to cast about for a means to recognize and preserve their homeplace. These girls, old ladies then, got the ball rolling with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. In 1981 the property was added to the Virginia Landmarks register, in 1984 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In advance of her death, Lucille asked that her ashes be scattered in the pasture behind the house.

Of James and Bannies ten children, one survives, Lilian. Lilian worked, long ago, for the Charlottesville Woolen Mills.

Many have contributed to the preservation and stewardship of this unique property, they include:

Woolen Mills neighbors Tom and Laura Parmenter
Jeff ODell, Chairman of the Charlottesville Historic Landmarks Commission, 1989
Satyendra Singh Huja
Virginia Department of Historic Resources
Charlottesville Planning Commission
Charlottesville City Council
The Woolen Mills Neighborhood Association 1988-2007
Woolen Mills Road

October 18, 1993 Charlottesville City Council extended "Individual Property Protection" to the seven acre farm, TMP-56.40.4

We thought that the entire seven acres would always be protected. 4/17/07- Dorothy Hesselton, daughter of Mary Ella Branham Frazier

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Mabel Pritchett Marrs

left to right, Louise Baltimore Pritchett, Mae Pritchett, Mabell Pritchett. Louise met her husband Woodie (Mabel and Mae's brother) when they were working at the Woolen Mill

Mabel Pritchett Marrs, 88, of the Woolen Mills neighborhood, passed away Tuesday, April 10, 2007.

Born on August 16, 1918, in Proffit, she was the daughter of the late James F. and Lelia Kirby Pritchett. Her husband, George L. Marrs; six brothers, Allen, Woodie, Tony, Whitelaw, Carl and Robert Pritchett; and two sisters, Lula Moon and Alice Mae Via, also preceded her in death.

Mabel worked for Charlottesville Woolen Mills from 1941 until it closed. She retired from Sperry Marine after 20 years and was a member of the First Baptist Church on Park St.

She is survived by a daughter, Carolyn M. Morris and her husband, Donald, of Dyke; a son, Robert L. Marrs of Charlottesville; five grandchildren, Bill Sperry, Pam Toney, Robbie Marrs, Stacy Dibble, and Kate Marrs; five great grandchildren, Kristin and Michael Toney, Olivia and Ethan Sperry, and John Michael Dibble; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.

A graveside service will be held 2 p.m. Friday, April 13, 2007, at Riverview Cemetery with the Reverend Dave Johnson officiating.

Memorial donations may be made to the First Baptist Church, Park St. Building Fund, 735 Park St. Charlottesville, VA 22902.

Friends may send condolences to the family at

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Sunday, April 8, 2007


Page from the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Research remains to be done regarding the Woolen Mills School, located at the corner of Woolen Mills Road and Riverview Street. The Woolen Mill provided the building, the County of Albemarle supplied a teacher. The page above from a book serially owned by Woolen Mills School graduates George Marion, Thomas Baltimore and Bertha Haggard. It is dated on the front leaf "2/29/29 T.J.B".

Thomas Jefferson Baltimore was the son of John Wesley Baltimore (brick mason) and Mary Morris Starkes Baltimore. Thomas was born September 13, 1911.

Reportedly, Mamie and John named their son TJ because his birth was one of the first to take place at Martha Jefferson Hospital.

In 1909, Mamie was on the Mill payroll as a spinner earning seventy cents per day.

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Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Place

Not all residents of "the Place" (the name applied by Woolen Mills residents to their neighborhood) worked at the Mill. This residential mill village was woven together as much by family connection as by common employment. C.M. Bibb bought his house at 1615 Woolen Mills Road from his father-in-law, George Baltimore. George was a carpenter at the Mill.
In 1920, George's daughters Bettie, Martha and Emma lived with their spouses in the Village as did his son's Harry and John. Son in law Bibb was a bridge superintendent for the railroad.

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Monday, April 2, 2007

Baltimores, 1928

frontyard, Woolen Mills Road. Rear, left to right, Thomas, Louise, John, Mamie and Roy Baltimore. Roy was John and Mamie's nephew. His dad died ten years previous, in the flu epidemic of 1918. Roy was raised by his family in residence on Woolen Mills Road (four aunts, two uncles, two grandparents and his mother).
Woolen Mills Road is unpaved.

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